Many people dread going to the emergency room, and it's not only because they're sick. Waiting times in some emergency rooms can be hours.
"Patients can get frustrated waiting, but it's also dangerous for them to be waiting," said Dr. Josiah Child of Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in North Providence.
Especially if patients are really sick. So, in Fatima's newly remodeled emergency department, patients are triaged in private rooms as soon as possible. Some may be directed to a hospital bed and others to a holding area.
"If patients are waiting for an X-ray or something like that, they don't have to wait in a bed. They can be in a more comfortable area, a more relaxed area, get that study and then go home," Child said.
That addresses the flow of patients.
"Actually, we received a lot of phone calls, people calling in all the time asking, 'How long's the wait? How long's the wait?' So, the hospital took that information and now we've made an option for people to go online if they have computer access to see how long the wait is," Christine Goden, a registered nurse at Fatima.
That information is available on the hospital's website or a smartphone app.
"The concept of also posting the times on the web is also to give people a choice. If a patient sees the wait times here are very high there's other departments they can go to," Child said.
The number of ER patients and how quickly the doctor is seeing each patient determines how long the wait is. It's updated every half hour.
"It makes us be very focused on the flow in the emergency department, to bring patients through," Child said.
Fatima is the first hospital in Rhode Island to post emergency room wait times. Its sister hospital, Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence, is considering implementing it as well.